Laura Sharman 22 July 2020

Turn high street shops into new homes, urges report

The Government should stop trying to slow the ‘inevitable’ decline of the high street and instead embrace new ways of saving urban centres, a new paper has argued.

The Social Market Foundation (SMF) said that empty high street shopping units could be converted into 800,000 new homes by the public sector.

It is calling on the Government to write off £80bn in local government debt to stimulate new investment in community assets in town and city centres.

The report - A New Life for the High Street - also calls for areas at risk of urban decline to be designated as Economic Growth Areas (EGAs), with tax incentives contingent on the hiring of local workers.

Scott Corfe, SMF research director, said: ‘Trying to prop up high street retailers facing long-term decline is not an act of kindness to workers or towns. It just postpones the inevitable and wastes opportunities to develop new policies to help workers and towns embrace the future.

’Nothing can stop the demise of traditional high street shopping so it would be better for politicians to support the next chapter in the story of the high street, with hundreds of thousands of new homes that bring new life to our urban centres.’

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